Through tapas (heat) the ascetic becomes clairvoyant and even incarnates the Gods.

By discovering why kundalini flow through the nerves creates heat we can begin to work out just how the function of the nervous system is altered during transmutation. The heat from kundalini is not caused by "friction" as kundalini moves through blockages, as is traditionally thought. Kundalini is purifying in that it uses whatever state of perfection or dross it finds, but purification is not its purpose or goal. Kundalini is the fire of transmutation and the heat from the nervous system we experience is the heat of transmutation. However, we cannot yet say exactly "what" transmutation is, but there are many mechanisms of possible heating in the body that we might look into.

Kundalini heat is generated by the nervous system. It is felt mostly in the pelvis, and up the spine, especially on the left side of the body, but the entire body temperature is raised a little as well. The majority of the heat produced during kundalini occurs in the sacral and lumbar spine, and I assume that there is more gray matter of the spinal column in these areas than elsewhere in the nervous system. Gray matter of course has larger numbers of mitochondria, organelles that produce both energy (ATP) and heat. To find the cause of heat we might focus on the activity of the mitochondria of the cell bodies of the neurons, especially in the gray matter of the spinal cord and in the brain itself.

Action potentials along nerves cause heat but the significant heat generated by kundalini is not just an "increase" in action potentials, it is a different type of expression of nerve energy altogether. This altered nerve energy generation generates heat, bliss, tingles and the other kundalini symptoms. The origin of the heat can be found through heat-imaging of the body during kundalini compared to normal metabolism. I think we will find that the heat is mostly concentrated in areas of the body with the highest mitochondria levels.

The pelvic and spinal nerve heat is always associated with bliss and heart expansion. When there is heat there is bliss. The heat is most pronounced in the pelvic bowl (kunda). One plausible theory to the generation of the nerve-heat is free radical damage the cell membrane of the mitochondrias in the nerve-bodies leading to less ATP being converted from glucose and more heat being generated...thus inefficient glycolysis might generate the nerve heat. This is the most straightforward theory since free radicals go up during kundalini, the oxidation to the membranes would interfere with the electron-transport-system of ATP conversion. The heat would continue as long as the body's antioxidant capacity is overwhelmed by the concentration of free radicals. Such radicals might include those of Nitric Oxide and its nitrogen metabolites. Since Nitric Oxide is a vasodilator and the heat always occurs along with heart expansion and bliss, it just might be that increased levels of glutamate and nitric oxide is the cause of the heat by creating mitochondria membrane damage and sloppy glycolysis. Also if the hyperactivated body is scavenging energy out of the calcium bonds of the bones and tissues, this might generate heat as well as ATP.

Inefficient glycolysis and lower cellular energy would mean the cell has a greater demand for glucose to burn. When a neuron doesn't get adequate glucose, or when ATP production falls it switches to glutamate excitation. Thus for the duration of a kundalini awakening we may be experiencing sloppy glycolysis, cellular glucose hunger, coupled with glutamate excitation. This along with extra free radical and metabolite production and the consequences of increased cell death and recycling of tissues goes along way to explaining the symptoms and sensations of awakening; and the cyclical nature of activation, detoxification, dissolution and transformation.

The heat generated by kundalini alters the spectrum of hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters, receptors, gene expression and protein synthesis. Thus there is a "kindled fire" aspect to the process, in that an increase in transmutation occurs, which in turn perpetuates the heat, which furthers an increase in transmutation. The heat and oxidative stress could help to prune the neurons, for restructuring and maturation of the nervous system. The extra heat shock proteins increase the rate of self-organization and offer protection from oxidation.

The heat of kundalini is not like hot flushes, it sticks around for months or years, coming and going a little with the annual solar and lunar cycle—and being most pronounced in July (summer solstice). Kundalini itself is triggered by hormonal changes but the heat doesn't have the temporary periodacy of a hot flush. Some people sweat with kundalini, but I don't. The heat is not produced through increased blood flow to the skin surface; it's very much a nerve-heat, skeletal muscle and bone heat. Although some people probably do go through heat-flush type periods associated with sex hormone release in the initial stages of kundalini. During peak kundalini flow the heat is most pronounced...and thereafter it seems the body might be permanently slightly hotter than it was prior to awakening...so some of this residual chemistry remains.



Mitochondria are the organelles sometimes called the "powerhouses" of the cell, where oxygen respiration occurs. As the energy powerhouses of the eukaryotic cell mitochondria dutifully serve as the efficient source of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for cell function. ATP is an energy-rich molecule used throughout cells for a variety of processes, and is largely produced in mitochondria by the breakdown of energy-rich nutrients such as glucose. Mitochondria are responsible for creating more than 90% of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support growth. ATP is the "energy currency" of the cell and is used to drive all energy requiring reactions including the synthesis of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. It also causes muscles to contract and nerves to conduct.

Mitochondria are found in high concentrations in high-energy producing organs--such as the nerves, heart, liver, adrenals, GI tract, brain, muscles and endocrine glands. Although some ATP is produced directly in a chemical reaction, most ATP is synthesized by electron transport in the mitochondrion.

Nerve cells obtain ATP only through glucose catabolism in the presence of oxygen. The mitochondria in the brain and the rest of the CNS uses glucose as its fuel, the rest of the body's mitochondria can use either glucose or fatty acids for energy. The brain uses 25% of the energy of the body but constitutes only 2% of the mass. The production of energy from glucose and fatty acids occurs at the cellular level with glycolysis (glucose metabolism) occurring in the cytosol of the cell, while fatty acid oxidation in the mitochondria of the cell and most cells involved with fatty acid metabolism are in the liver.

When a cell's need for energy production increases, a mitochondria can simply pinch into two. The two halves increase in size, thereby increasing the ability to produce ATP. The dependence of cells on the energy provided by mitochondrial oxidative metabolism of glucose, especially through critical organs such as the heart and brain, is underlined by the fatal consequences when toxins interfere with the mitochondrial electron transport system. If the mitochondrial theory of aging is correct, then the root cause of aging is damage to mitochondrial DNA by free radical leakage from adjacent respiratory proteins.

There are three interlinked energy production cycles:

  1. The glycolytic (sugar burning).

  2. The Krebs' citric acid cycles (aminos and fats are "burned" through the Krebs' cycle).

  3. The electron transport side chain.

The electron "sparks" released from the step by step slow "burning" that occurs in the Krebs' cycle provide the fuel used by the electron transport side chain to generate much of the ATP bioenergy that literally powers our life. Heat is produced in all animals by the breakdown of ATP and as a by-product of other biochemical reactions. In brown fat cells, a special protein called uncoupling protein is produced. This protein disrupts the creation of the proton gradient by making the inner mitochondrial membrane "leaky." As a result, the cells make less ATP and release more energy in the form of heat. Similar uncoupling proteins are found in skeletal muscle. In this way brown adipose tissue and skeletal muscle produces abundant heat by uncoupling the production of ATP from the electron transport chain.

Any food not utilized for energy is subsequently stored for use later, and mostly as fat since it is the most efficient energy storage form at 9 kcal/gm. ATP, while a good energy packet, is not a good fuel storage molecule, as it is used quickly after being formed. Better storage forms of energy are glycogen and triglycerides. Glycogen is broken down to glucose and triglycerides are broken down to fatty acids, both of which are readily utilized for energy. The synthesis of triglycerides requires glycerol (from carbohydrates), fatty acids and energy from ATP. Co-enzyme A, derived from pantothenic acid (B5) activates the fatty acids and glucose in the Krebs Cycle performed within the mitochondria. The Krebs cycle is a system of removing H2 from foodstuffs which are then combusted to water and the free energy obtained is used to form the higher energy compound ATP.

Oxidative phosphorylation: In the inner membrane of the mitochondria are large molecules capable of rapidly alternating oxidation and reduction...the electron transport system. Mitochondria take in small organic molecules-like pyruvate (formed by the partial breakdown of sugars) or fatty acids (formed by the partial breakdown of fats) and break them down. Acetyl CoA, an essential substrate for energy production, is an end product of both glycolysis and fatty acid metabolism. Acetyl CoA, as a substrate in the Krebs cycle, produces NADH, NADPH and FADH2, which are reducing agents that supply hydrogen atoms or electrons in chemical reactions and are used for ATP production in the mitochondria via a process called oxidative phosphorylation.

NADH is the reduced (electron-energy rich) coenzyme form of vitamin B3. NADH is involved in all of these different cycles, as well as in the conversion of the glycolytic cycle end product "pyruvate" into the beginning fuel of the Krebs' citric acid cycle. The energy from the broken chemical bonds is carried by the reducing agents (electron donors NADH and FADH2) to the electron transport chain. Electrons are passed from one protein to another in the electron transport chain, releasing energy at each step. Some of the proteins in the electron transport chain use this energy to pump protons (H+) across the inner mitochondrial membrane. This creates an electrochemical gradient, or potential. The energy contained in this gradient is used by an enzyme called ATP-synthetase to produce ATP.

Thermogenic utilization of NADH: The oxidation of fatty acids also produces NADH and FADH2. Each mole of NADH produces 3 ATP's within the confines of the mitochondria. NADH is also produced in the cytosol cell medium (outside of the mitochondria) but needs to be transported into the mitochondria in order to be converted to energy. This transport mechanism is called the "glycerol-3-phosphate shuttle" and requires the enzyme glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase to catalyze the reaction. This "shuttle" requires energy and the end result is that cytosolic NADH is only able to produce 2 ATP's per mole and the rest of the energy is released as heat.

Another possible source of metabolic heat is generated in the reaction which converts malic acid (a Krebs cycle intermediate) to pyruvate and NADPH. This conversion occurs in the cell cytosol and requires an enzyme called malic enzyme. This reaction is important since it not only produces cytosolic NADPH but also produces heat.

(see also: The Neurology Index)

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